It’s done. Over. Complete. Finished. Finalized. In The Books. Through with.
Which ever way you cut it, Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight Trilogy, which included Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, is now at an end. Never again will Christian Bale suit up as the Caped Crusader and never again will Mr. Nolan step behind the camera to direct what we’ve all come to know as the best superhero series of all time.
So, with that in mind, it’s time to get all sad and teary eyed and reflect on the trilogy as a whole. In particular, let’s look back on the top 10 moments from Christopher Nolan‘s re-defining trilogy and let’s examine what made them so spectacular.
Please note that there will be spoilers for all three films in this article.
*Special thanks to Will Chadwick for his help in putting this together.
A Bird? A Plane? No It’s A Tumbler – Batman Begins
Without a doubt, one of the best parts of Batman Begins is the chase scene involving Batman’s Tumbler. For one, the vehicle is an absolute beast and to see it roar to life, and then take out that cop car almost instantly, is a sight of sheer delight. What proceeds though, is even better.
“I’ve gotta get me one of those,” says Commissioner Gordon as he sees the Tumbler take off. Funny, I was thinking the same thing when I first saw the vehicle too.
With policemen in hot pursuit, the “black tank,” as one cop calls it, proceeds to race through the city streets with Batman and Rachel inside the vehicle. As the chase progresses, the Tumbler ends up on the top level of a parking garage. Seemingly cornered, it looks as if the Caped Crusader is at a dead end. Just as all hope seems to be lost, Batman asks us to trust him and as we’re still deciding whether that’s a good idea or not, he takes the Tubmler and jumps it across to the next building.
The chase then takes place on two levels, with the cop cars following on the street and the Tumbler shredding apart houses and buildings as it leaps from rooftop to rooftop.
As one of the cops yells on the radio “he’s flying on rooftops,” we see the Tumbler do just that, as it soars across a rather large gap and lands on the roof of a house, ripping up the tiles upon landing.
Really, I could go on and on about what a great scene this is but if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The Tumbler car chase is an excellent piece of filmmaking and is one of Batman Begin‘s most exciting sequences. To see that massive, tank-like vehicle just ripping through the streets, and then soaring across rooftops, well, you only get that in a Batman film, folks.
He Leaves A Calling Card – Batman Begins
Have you ever seen a final scene so chilling and tantalizing. When Gordon hands Batman the Joker card, I felt the hairs on my neck rise. It’s the perfect sequel set-up. Nolan gives us the smallest hint at what to expect, all we see is a single playing card, but we already know what’s in store for us.
The build up is excellent too. As Commissioner Gordon starts to describe the latest criminal at large to Batman, we don’t realize the significance at first. “Armed robbery, double homicide,” says Gordon. Ok, nothing special, right? “Has a taste for the theatrical, like you,” continues Gordon. Now our attention is caught. Finally, the commissioner states that their newest target “leaves a calling card” at the scene of his crimes.
He hands the card to Batman and as it’s flipped over and the Joker symbol is revealed, our minds explode. Cue four years of unbearable anticipation for The Dark Knight and a massive amount of internet rumors and speculation.
The scene then continues to play out. “I never said thank you,” protests Gordon. “And you’ll never have to,” replies Batman, before leaping off the building and flying into the night as the credits come up.
Perfect movie ending? I think so. And that’s a trend that Nolan would follow with his next two films in the trilogy as well.
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The Bank Heist – The Dark Knight
Ah, the famous opening scene of The Dark Knight. As the film opens up we’re thrown right into the middle of a bank heist, which also doubles as our first, electrifying introduction to the Joker.
A crew of thieves wearing clown masks swiftly carry out their heist as planned. Only, not everything is as it seems.
Betrayal and double crossing play into the heist and a fantastic William Fichtner (as the bank manager) rages across the room with a booming shotgun. As things escalate, and the money is finally collected, we’re left with only two individuals, one being the Joker.
Soon enough, that problem has been taken care of thanks to the bus driver, whom the Joker promptly executes. Fichtner, lying on the floor injured, gives what seem to be his dying words, telling the masked villain that criminals in Gotham used to believe in honour and respect. “What do you believe in!?” screams Fichtner.
And with that the Joker walks over, plants a smoke grenade in the injured man’s mouth and utters “I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you stranger.” He then pulls off his mask, giving us the first look at Heath Ledger’s iconic character. The Joker then boards the bus and drives out of the bank, right past the police.
Simply beautiful, Mr. Nolan. A terrifically executed heist scene that perfectly sets the tone for the film and gives us a terrifying introduction to Batman’s newest foe.
Busting Out The Batpod – The Dark Knight
Aside from featuring a mind-blowing trailer truck flip, the Batpod scene in The Dark Knight is a masterfully crafted scene that stands as one of the trilogy’s best. For one, that Batpod is just so freaking cool, isn’t it? Watching the Bat zip through the busy streets (as well as through the indoor shopping plaza) on his ultra-sleek and uber-cool Batpod is a real thrill.
And then there’s that trailer truck flip, my god, that trailer truck flip. Mind-blowing? Yes! Jaw-dropping? Most definitely!
The scene is also an excellent example of just how twisted the Joker is, as we see him taunt Batman to come at him. “Hit me, hit me!” yells the Joker. Batman charges full speed ahead at his foe but pulls out of his beeline at the last moment, not able to go through with it.
The Batpod flies out from underneath our hero and leaves him injured, lying on the street. A smirk crosses the Joker’s face and he walks over to his fallen nemesis. Just as he’s about to extract some brutal revenge, Commissioner Gordon comes in to save the day, and put and end to a thrilling scene.
Vicious Interrogation – The Dark Knight
After much taunting and instigating, Batman finally gets some hands on time with the Joker in what is one brutal and vicious, though immensely pleasing interrogation scene. Watching the Bat toss the Joker around the room like a ragdoll is so incredibly satisfying that you’ll want to rewind and watch the scene again as soon as it’s finished.
The best part is Joker’s resilience to Batman’s threats, showing that he is truly an adversary that can not be defeated. The Bat has strength but the Joker has his mind. He continuously messes around with the Caped Crusader’s head, making him angrier and angrier. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable scene to watch as the two polar opposites play off each other wonderfully.
The Bat continues to dish out the pain and shout out orders but the Joker just continues to laugh and taunt, never letting Batman get the upper hand. Once the reveal about Harvey and Rachel is made, the icing on the cake is complete and the psychological mind game between the two is heightened to new levels.
Not The Hero Gotham Needs – The Dark Knight
Both haunting and chilling, the epic conclusion to The Dark Knight is a standout moment of the film, for many reasons.
Batman’s humility and good virtue is shown in full here as he tells Gordon that the Joker can not win, stating that the city can’t know what Harvey has done.
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” growls Batman. He realizes that he has to be whatever Gotham needs him to be, fully accepting the fact that he must take the fall for Dent’s actions in order to give hope to Gotham. “Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded,” he continues on, as we see Lucius shut down the Bat Cave. It’s a very symbolic moment and one that fits beautifully into Nolan’s universe.
As the scene progresses, Hans Zimmer’s epic score kicks in as the chase for Batman gets underway. The police and their dogs move in as Gordon watches, knowing that their actions are futile as the Caped Crusader is long gone.
“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now,” Gordon tells his son. “So we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero, he’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight,” Gordon continues. And with that, we see Batman speeding off on his Bat Pod and the end credits roll.
Can you feel the shivers running down your spine? Has an ending ever been so poetic, fitting and beautiful? Can Nolan ever top this ending scene?
Believe it or not, in his next film, he does.
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Bane Breaks The Bat – The Dark Knight Rises
Throughout The Dark Knight Rises we have several very intense scenes of action and violence. Perhaps the most intense though is the Bane versus Batman fight, where Bane’s uber strength crushes Batman into the ground in an all too brutal fashion.
After a long series of throwing punches, Bane caves in the cowl and then breaks Batman’s back over his knee. It is a significant scene simply for the reason that we have never seen Batman physically crushed like he is here, it is a very shocking and powerful moment that quite honestly, changes the rest of the film.
In The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, the adversaries never really seemed to impose that much of a threat to Batman, mainly because he’s Batman and he could beat seven shades of crap out of anyone. With Bane though, there comes a challenge that hasn’t been there before. He breaks him down and for the first time we genuinely believe as an audience that in the end, Batman may not succeed.
It also a spectacularly staged moment. Set in Bane’s underground sewer lair, it is a bizarre place for a fight as the two go toe and toe under a lashing waterfall and a cramped, rusting gangway. Nolan always seeks to visually entice us as much as possible and it is crucial that for a pivotal scene like this, that he can make it iconic as well as making it narratively important.
And that’s exactly what he does.
Plane Escape – The Dark Knight Rises
We’ve seen our fair share of prison breakouts in the past, but we haven’t seen too many that take place at nearly 10,000 feet in the air. This is a stunning opening set piece which brilliantly introduces us to Bane by using a hostage situation that turns into a breakout from CIA custody. It is breathtakingly exciting and, as far as I can tell, all done in camera, which makes it even more impressive.
The high octane, in the air stunt work is simply sublime and by achieving the scene in camera, it brings across Nolan’s strive towards making it as realistic and physical as possible.
The scene is composed mostly in wide shots to truly show that this is happening above ground and while the planes are moving. Very few directors and stunt crews would have the balls or the patience to do something like this and it is a great credit to the stunt coordinators who got it to work.
This alone is the reason why stunt coordinators should get the Oscar category they have been trying to get for years. It’s such a well executed scene and it truly is exhilarating. For me, it’s one of the best stunt scenes I’ve witnessed in a very, very long time.
He’s Back! – The Dark Knight Rises
The build up to finally feasting our eyes on Batman in The Dark Knight Rises is a long and tantalizing one. For quite a while we only get to see Bruce Wayne, an old and crippled Bruce Wayne at that. This is a long film and it has no problem building up to the return of our beloved hero. We sit there with great anticipation, just waiting for Bruce to come to his senses and throw on the cape.
And, when he finally does decide to take to the streets of Gotham again, Nolan re-introduces him in spectacular fashion. Out of nowhere the Caped Crusader flies in to assist the cops in their pursuit of Bane and his men. It’s a incredibly exciting moment as we’ve been waiting four years to see Batman on screen again.
As Batman races in on his Batpod and fires his trusty EMP, cheers arose from the audience in my theatre. It is such a triumphant moment and one that we’ve been waiting to see for far too long.
As Batman chases after Bane and the Gotham PD chase after Batman, Nolan takes us through the streets of Gotham with fluid camera movement and spot on editing. Like all the chase scenes we’ve seen in his trilogy, it’s nailbiting, suspenseful and absolutely perfect.
To top it all off, just when the police think that they have Batman cornered into an alley, he fires up the Bat (giving us our first real look at the epic flying machine) and zooms off, leaving them all stunned.
It’s one of my favorite scenes of the film and a fantastic way to bring Batman back after all these years of waiting.
The End – The Dark Knight Rises
Honestly, I really didn’t think that Christopher Nolan would be able to end his epic trilogy in a fitting way. To compose a final scene for such a celebrated and monumental trilogy is a daunting task and one that I thought could not be done. Now, having seen the film, I can safely say that being the genius he is, Nolan pulled off what I had considered an impossible task.
Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight ended wonderfully. In fact, Nolan has always been quite good at putting together ending scenes for his films. Now that his Dark Knight trilogy has come to a close, he has provided a totally appropriate and beautiful ending, one that is reminiscent of the poetic ending to Inception, as it plays the ambiguity card and leaves us scratching our heads as we depart from the theatre.
Was Alfred imagining things at the end? Is John Blake going to become the next Batman? Will he continue on as Robin? Did Batman really eject before the bomb went off? Did he even have time to? So many questions and so many different interpretations.
The ending to The Dark Knight Rises fit in so well with the themes that have been presented to us throughout the trilogy. Everything is wrapped up and despite the ambiguity, I felt no frustration as the credits came up, only happiness, pure happiness.
It was perfect in so many ways and it easily stands as one of the best trilogy endings of all time.
Now it’s your turn, sound off in the comments and tell us what your favorite moments are and why!Previous